A digest of investment opinion from the world's leading financial advisers.
Taking a cautious approach to investing has paid off handsomely for Jean-Marie Eveillard. The manager of the $200 million SoGen International Fund hasn't had a single losing year in the past decade, during which his portfolios compounded an average 20 percent annually. Eveillard is particularly cautious about stocks now since he believes "there's too much debt around today. The 1990s will pay for the credit binge of the 1980s." He recently reduced U.S. stock holdings to just 30 percent of his portfolio.- If U.S. stocks falter, international equities could pick up the slack. Vanguard World International Growth Fund's Richard Foulkes, who's made 28 percent annually on his investors' money over the past five years, thinks this will be the case. Foulkes looks for countries where economic trends are most favorable to growth. Then he buys under-followed, smaller-cap growth companies that look the cheapest in each marketplace. Here are Foulkes' recent favorite countries, and stocks: Japan (Canon, Hirose, Joshin Denki); Switzerland (AluSuisse, BBC Brown Boveri, Merkur); the Netherlands (Otra, Sphinx).
- Most fast-food segments are saturated, labor-intensive and lack menu flexibility, according to Morgan Keegan, the Memphis-based brokerage house. But so-called casual dining outlets suffer from none of these problems and should benefit substantially as diners adjust their spending practices downward in the face of the looming recession. M.K. considers four "casual dining" stocks particularly undervalued: Cracker Barrel, O'Charley's, Ryan's Family Steakhouse and Showbiz Pizza.
- The Middle East crisis is going to punish corporate earnings this year. But as usual, some companies will buck the major trend. United & Babson Investment Report (101 Prescott St., Wellesley Hills, MA 02181) recently recommended nine stocks with prospects of sharply higher 1990 earnings despite the general market's malaise: Boeing, Chevron, Circus Circus, General Mills, Nucor, PepsiCo, Reuters, Wal-Mart, Warner-Lambert.
- The fading of tax-favored status for exploration projects in Canada is just one subtle factor favoring gold prices, says Gold Stock News (P. O. Box 3073, Barrington, IL 60010). "Nevada has also boosted income taxes for mining companies and heap leaching isn't acceptable to environmentalists. The resultant higher costs mean many mining projects will be shelved. The closing of marginal mines bodes well for the relatively few players who will remain."
- Some good opportunities are opening up for investors seeking short-term tax-free income, says Forbes' Ben Weberman. "Just ask your broker to find a long-term municipal bond callable in the next few years. In most cases the yield will be nearly two percentage points above the current market rate - without the usual risk of holding long-term bonds. With interest rates considerably lower than a decade ago, borrowers are exercising their call rights to refinance at the lower rates.
- Investors with less than $10 million should buy no-load mutual funds rather than hire a personal money manager, says David Kudish of Chicago-based Stratford Advisory Group. "Between transaction costs, management fees and custodial costs, you're talking 3 percent a year to have an active manager. And you have no diversification. You have only one equity style, one bond style. Why not have a series of no-load mutual funds?"
Investor's Notebook reflects the opinions of professionals. It does not endorse specific investments, and no endorsement is implied or should be inferred. For more information, contact the individual firms cited.